By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – I spent the day Thursday watching every minute of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing for John Kerry, and even though the vote ratifying his appointment as Secretary of State probably won’t come until next week, it was obvious Kerry will have no problems.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

He displayed a commanding knowledge of foreign policy and the cautious, deliberative temperament you want in the nation’s top diplomat.

Kerry handled himself flawlessly at the hearing. But it was still an embarrassment to watch.

That’s because so many of the senators seem to be under the misimpression that they are there to stroke their own egos and those of their colleagues.

If you’ve ever watched C-Span, you know what I mean. Senator after senator devoted huge chunks of their time to effusive praise for Kerry, well beyond the amount dictated by collegiality and polite discourse.

When they finally did get around to doing their job, their questions were mostly open-ended and sophomoric.

There were a few pointed questions from Republicans, which Kerry artfully deflected. But this was not a nominee for some obscure cabinet post.

The Secretary of State’s job is as important as it gets, with a potentially-huge impact on the lives and livelihoods of Americans. Kerry’s obvious qualifications for the job and his colleagues’ apparent affection for him don’t relieve them of the obligation to question him thoroughly about his view of the world, his past actions and his decision-making process.

Instead, most of the hearing time was simply wasted. And the rank partisanship of Democrats who couldn’t be bothered to do their jobs properly was especially revolting.

Next time, it’ll be the Republicans circling the wagons around their own.

Hey, senators, news bulletin: you work for us, not each other or your foolish parties.

If you can’t be trusted to take seriously a task of the magnitude of vetting the next Secretary of State, what use are you?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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